Grand Prix 2014 Austrian Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

F1 is back In Speilberg, Austria for the first time in 11 years.

The Speilberg race track has a long history in F1. The original track was know as the Osterrelchring. The track was built in 1969 to replace the Zeltweg airfield circuit, and first debuted in F1 in 1970. It was a very fast circuit with every corner a fast sweeping spectacle meaning drivers never had to drop below 3rd gear. However large sections of the track had little run off and some sections including the start finish straight were very narrow. Mark Donohue’s death in 1975 resulted in alterations to the Vost-Hugel Kurve and in 1977 the Hella-Licht chicane was added. After that Allan Prost pushed for larger run off’s rather than more track alterations. These followed in some, but not all corners.

The Osterrelchring was a regular offering until 1987 when the turbo era pushed engine power up to 1400 bhp in quailfying. The speeds achieved approaching the Bosch Kurve were well over 200mph, a corner still with little run off. Other corners were also very fast and the track was considered to be dangerous and having out grown F1’s in its new faster era.

But the real crunch came after two restarts were required in 1987 due to crashes caused by the narrow start finish straight. With the cars now over 6 feet wide, the straight was not wide enough to get much more than 2 cars side by side. F1 had had enough, and Austria was dropped in favour of Budapest.

The track gradually fell into disrepair until the Austrian Telephone Company paid for it’s revamping by Herman Tilke in return for it being renamed the A1-Ring. The A1-Ring returned to the calendar in 1997. Most of the fast corners had gone in favour of 3 tight corners introduced to give more overtaking opportunities. It was also much shorter, down from 3.67 miles too just 2.68 miles. The A1 Ring enjoyed a 7 year run until it was again dropped after 2003.

In 2004 the pit buildings and grandstands were demolished in anticipation of building new facilities. Then the money ran out. This rendered the track unusable for any motorsport. It lay abandoned until Red Bull started 70million Euro renovation works in 2008. The track reopened in 2011 as the renamed Red Bull Ring.

And now we’re back.

We are now past 1/3rd distance in the season. In the Constructors Championship the Mercedes looks more or less unbeatable barring double ERS failures. It seems unlikey anyone will find 1-2 second a lap over them in the next few races in order to amount a challenge. I think it is more likely it will be the end of the season before things close up.

However Mercedes ‘no number 1’ policy is giving us a great battle between Lewis and Nico for the World Drivers Championship. With Nico now 22 points clear following Lewis's 2nd DNF of the year, Lewis really has a challenge on now to catch Rosberg. I'm sure he is hoping for a good luck, bad luck switch with his team mate.

Great to see Dan taking his first win, and with The Red Bull Ring being Red Bulls home track who knows we may see him on the top step again.

Somehow I think this ain't over by a long shot.

Here is the debacle that was 1987.
1987 start 1 crash
1987 start 2 crash
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I loved the old circuit. I remember in 86 the awesomely powerful Benetton BMWs should have won, but out Mercedes'd Mercedes and both cars conked out. In a sort of parallel with yesterday, Fabi's Benetton snuffed it straight after he'd overtaken team-mate Gerhard Berger.....

1986 highlights ... 9:55-ish ... Fabi ... Berger ...
Since when has Bernie actually added European races back onto the calendar. They must have made him an offer he simply couldn't refuse. Thankyou Red Bull. The scenery of this track is amazing, one of the best in the world, only Spa and Nordschleife compare.

Of the drivers that raced in the last race here in 2003, only Raikkonen, Alonso and Button remain.

Plus you can't mention this place without this video.

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Speedweek is reporting rumours that Caterham won't be at the Austrian GP and, in fact may be finished with F1 due to "budgetary problems".
Quick google and it seems than Caterham have sold their sportscar racing side of the business as well.
Tony Fernandes said on Twitter a few hours ago that Caterham will be racing in Austria, "no question". That's a bit open-ended though as to whether they have money problems.
One of my old favourites on the old PS1 game and in reality. Lots of elevation changes with a combination of challenges with regard to braking, having the right gear ratios/selection and set up for the slow vs fast turns. The start/finish straight is the only real one on the track and due to it's partly steep downhill and then steep uphill topography is largely responsible for the numerous dodgy starts over the years.

What on earth was Mansell doing in the second start? Crawling along like that he should have move to the right onto the grass; that would probably have avoided the problems. Oh, sorry, Mansell, yes.

If I remember rightly (and I stand to be corrected) Mansell either fluffed his gear change or had clutch problems. Considering he went on to win the race after the third start (I think it was three starts) the clutch problem "official reason" seems a tad odd.

Anyway, back to this weekend. It will be interesting to see how the new spec' cars and the drivers compare there. The topography makes this circuit quite interesting, a bit like Austin. Traction off the line at the start will be critical to get the best drive for the hill, then the entry to the first right hander after hammering up there is really tricky. They will be braking hard uphill so timing is everything as it will be very easy to brake too early, especially now they have more engine braking and help from the ERS. Conversely a couple of the other turns require heavy braking on a downhill entry so the tendency may be to brake too late. It's first time they will experience this (in the new F1 cars) at a circuit this season, so braking distances will be quite different to what they're used to. The drivers who can adapt quickest will excel and the ones who can't could end up looking pretty poor!

On the form they've shown to date I'd say Mercedes are in the pound seats again with Red Bull possibly closer than they have been all year. It's going to be about traction, low down grunt (torque) and downforce. Okay one could say it's always about that but on flatter circuits a horsepower and top speed advantage can offset other deficits. Oh, and another note about the drivers, those who have done a lot of driving on uphill - down dale tracks might have an edge ... Kimi?
They could have covered that second start under waved yellows...tsk. ;)

Looking forward to this race very much, with apologies to the Birmingham Superprix probably the finest location for a race circuit anywhere in the world. As with the Nurburgring, though, I think this circuit is only criticised so heavily because of the sublimely brilliant tracks they replaced. By the standards of today it's not too bad and should give us a reasonable race - I hope so.

Hamilton to win.
I am curious if the home advantage gives Red Bull wings, otherwise I think the Mercedes engines will dominate. The uphill-sloping straights are very suitable for overtaking, so the race will be great.
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